Truesdale attended conference days before leaving district

rheaton@islandpacket.comOctober 24, 2012 

Two days before her final day on the job, former Beaufort County school superintendent Valerie Truesdale headed to a conference on educational technology in Boston.

And the district reimbursed her $1,200 for the trip to the one-day conference,"Ed Tech 2013: Powering Up Success."

Board of Education Chairman Fred Washington Jr. said Tuesday he thought the expense was justified.

The one-day conference, held Sept. 27 and presented by the publication Education Week, focused on the use of technology to boost student learning. Truesdale reimbursement went mostly toward air fare and registration expenses, according to school district spokesman Jim Foster.

The school board discusses the superintendent's budget if it includes "something of considerable interest," Washington said. It does not approve line-by-line expense reports.

"This is something in her opinion -- and I concur -- that will benefit the district. She was not promoting herself," Washington said. "She was invited to come ... to showcase the district. Anything we can do to highlight the district, that's positive."

Truesdale said Wednesday she registered for the conference before she knew she would be leaving the county for a job in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District in North Carolina. She also was asked to attend a small dinner Sept. 26, the night before the conference.

The dinner was a gathering of school district leaders from around to country who discussed how their implementation of technology has driven student achievement, Education Week associate publisher Sean Herdman said.

Herdman said about 25 people attended the dinner -- mostly conference attendees who were superintendents and who had traveled long distances, as well as conference speakers.

Truesdale said she saw it as a chance to spread the news about the use of technology in Beaufort County schools. She said at the dinner she discussed the district's virtual summer school, the new iPad initiative and the district's investment in laptops for teachers -- among other things -- with dinner attendees.

"It was a wonderful opportunity for the Beaufort County School District's progress in student achievement and educational technology to be showcased as a role model," Truesdale said.

Former director of virtual learning Cory Tressler also registered for the conference in late spring and left his job the same day as Truesdale.

However, he decided not to go.

Tressler said he thought it was more important that he spend his last few days with his staff.

"I was going to learn and bring back information for the district," he said. "That's primarily why I didn't go. I had made my decision that I wasn't going to be in the district."

Truesdale said she considered not attending since she was leaving. She spoke with both interim superintendent Jackie Rosswurm and Washington, who said she should go, she said.

Rosswurm said she supported Truesdale speaking about how technology had moved the district schools forward, and because the arrangements had already been made she "didn't see any reason not to have someone there representing us."

"We had a lot of discussions internally, and the consensus was that we should be represented at this," Truesdale said.

Follow reporter Rachel Heaton at twitter.com/HomeroomBft.

Related content:

Ed Tech 2013: Powering Up Success agenda

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